Many minimally invasive total hip replacements have been performed successfully. However, some experts are concerned that the small surgical incision(s) makes it more challenging for a surgeon to create the perfect fit and alignment for the hip replacement components, putting the patient at greater risk for post-surgical complications.

In a study published in 2012,1 experts reviewed 20 clinical studies that compared more than 1,800 patients undergoing minimally invasive and traditional hip replacement surgeries. A greater number of minimally invasive surgery patients had post-surgical infection and nerve damage and fewer had bone fractures and deep vein thrombosis, but none of these differences were statistically significant.


Results of minimally invasive hip replacement surgery

The minimally invasive approaches to hip replacement tend to create less trauma to hip joints’ surrounding soft tissues. Some studies show short-term functional outcomes are better for minimally invasive surgeries when compared to traditional surgeries, meaning that patients tend to have less pain and regain the use of their hip joint more quickly during the first 3 months after surgery.

Long-term differences are less clear, and more clinical research is needed before experts can definitively say that minimally invasive surgeries have a definitive advantage over the traditional approach while providing equal or fewer risks.

Choosing a surgeon for minimally invasive hip replacement surgery

There is no specific credentialing system that certifies orthopedic surgeons to perform minimally invasive techniques for hip replacement. Moreover, there is a steep learning curve for surgeons who are new to this surgery.2 Therefore, a patient should ask a surgeon:

  • How often does the surgeon perform this specific surgery?
  • What are the surgeon’s success and complication rates regarding the specific procedure?
  • What are the possible short- and long-term outcomes?

When considering the advantages and risks of minimally invasive hip replacement, a surgeon’s experience and success with a specific procedure should be an important factor. Surgical experience has an inverse relationship with complication rates.3,4


  • 1.Imamura M, Munro NA, Zhu S, Glazener C, Fraser C, Hutchison J, Vale L. Single mini-incision total hip replacement for the management of arthritic disease of the hip: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012 Oct 17;94(20):1897-905. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00495. PubMed PMID: 23079882.
  • 2.Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Department of Health and Human Services. December 22, 2006. Technology Assessment: Horizon Scan on Hip Replacement Surgery [White Paper]. Produced by ECRI Evidence-based Practice Center, Rockville, Maryland. Retrieved October 22, 2012 from
  • 3.The Knee Society. Minimally Invasive and Small Incision Joint Replacement Surgery: What Patients Should Consider. PDF. ©2005. accessed via Last reviewed January 2008. Accessed September 17, 2012.
  • 4.Katz JN, Losina E, Barrett J, et al. Association Between Hospital and Surgeon Procedure Volume and Outcomes of Total Hip Replacement in the United States Medicare Population*. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. 2001 Nov;83(11):1622-1629.